Increased involvement by states is crucial to the success of the National Animal Identification System and key to overcoming objections to the program. Success of the program cannot depend on federal actions alone, according to Gene Hugoson, Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner.

The comments were made at the National Institute of Animal Agriculture’s I.D. Info Expo which kicked off its National Conference on Animal Identification Tuesday in Kansas City.

“The state’s component is a critical part of NAIS,” says Hugoson, who admits that getting cooperation for the program is a challenge. Among concerns that have been voiced to the program include questions regarding how information collected will be used and if it could be turned against participants.

“Most states already have a system in place which could serve as a foundation to build upon for successful animal traceability,” says Hugoson. “Minnesota has a big stake in this issue.”

Hugoson says state authorities are the usually first responders in any animal emergency that arises and are critical in successful handling of the event. The first requirement is accurate state records. “State databases must be up to date, usable and immediately accessible,” he says. “We need to know where livestock farms are and where the animals are.”

Hugoson says that a NAIS system directed from the federal level only is doomed to failure. “It’s going to take leadership from those (states) involved to get a system that’s going to work.” 

NAIS must be focused on animal health, according to Hugoson. “We never know when an animal disease will hit,” he says. For successful animal traceability it’s “very important for states to step up to the plate.”